The next day I decided to head out and look for news; at least, that was what I'd told myself.
I knew that right now, I didn't really care about that article. What I really wanted was to see Antonio again.
Something about that man - maybe it was his musical skills, or maybe it was because he gave me his scarf...
Or maybe his smile.
The way he would smile at me really had me entranced. It made me want to see him again.
I wrapped his scarf around my neck, trying to replicate the way he had done it yesterday, but not quite succeeding. This time I had chosen a thicker black jacket which was probably two sizes too big for me, but almost unnaturally warm nonetheless.
The frost had started to show up on the windscreen of my car. I strolled past it, unable to see through it into my own car. I breathed out, once again mesmerised by the way the tiny droplets of moisture condensed in the air.
I stuck my hands in my pockets, stared at the pavement, waiting for a familiar voice to shout in my direction; but I made it to the shopping mall completely undisturbed.
Heaving a heavy sigh, I stared up at the gigantic building, still listening, still waiting.
The shopping mall was an impressive structure, four floors high and full of people hurrying in and out, undoubtedly here to make use of the shopping facilities in preparation for the upcoming Christmas. Stifling a yawn, I made my way to BHS, checking for my wallet.
It was safely tucked into my left trouser pocket. Thank God, I thought, not at all liking the idea of having to walk all the way home again just so I could buy my mother a Christmas present.
That was when I got a feeling. A funny one, as if something heavy just dropped in my stomach-
I jumped, gasping as I felt the breath get knocked out of my system. From behind me, Antonio chuckled.
"Haha! I got you there, didn't I?"
I gave him a death glare, but inside I was laughing too.
I looked him over. Today he was wearing the same beige coat as yesterday, but this time his scarf was a red and yellow striped pattern.
"Coincidence, huh? That we keep on meeting each other?"
"So." He looked up at the mall. "Christmas shopping?"
There was an awkward silence for the next couple of seconds.
Then something bright red and flashy caught my eye, and I think I almost squealed.
"A Nissan GT-R!" I breathed, rushing over to the sports car sitting on the curb and completely geeking out. "Each one is individual. No two cars are exactly the same... Each one comes with 419 horsepower, more or less, and they are the world's fastest accelerating production 40 seater... Whoa, I've never seen one up close..."
Antonio looked dull. Sombre. A little bit... Hurt?
"Oh, I'm sorry... It's just, I love these cars..."
"It's fine," he said quietly.
"Sometimes I just really want to own one of these... But to be honest, I wouldn't really... Too fast for me... I'm fine with my Toyota RAV-4... What kind of car do you have?"
He paused again, as if he was thinking about it - or perhaps, as if he didn't want to answer."
"I don't drive."
"Huh? Why, did you get your licence taken away or something?"
He didn't answer this time, and I took this as a sign that it was time to swiftly move on again.
I stared up to the sky.
All this time and I hadn't realised that it was beginning to get dark.
Antonio looked up as well. Then his eyes lit up again.
"Are you going anywhere tonight?" he asked, almost excitedly.
"Can you come with me, then, please?"
He took me by the hand and it took all of my willpower not to blush.
"Yay! Come on!"
He ran, relatively slowly so that I could catch up with him. We were running for some time, until he slowed down and started to walk instead.
We were in a part of town I'd never seen before. Nervously, I reached for my phone, searching for anything that would warm up my freezing-cold hands.
"We're nearly there," Antonio whispered, looking back at me. He pointed to a flight of steps, leading high up into the air.
I could see all the bits of rock in the cement as I took one step after another, forcing myself on after every step.
"It's a long way," Antonio said. "But it's worth it. Trust me."
I looked up, into his eyes, and somehow, I trusted him.
"Lead the way."
A long while and many, many steps later, we made it.
It was practically night by now, and I could see nothing but the ground.
To the far left was a bench, standing alone. Beyond that was a gate, and my childish curiosity kicked in.
I ventured over to it, and Antonio gestured for me to sit down. And then he pointed.
My mouth gaped open.
We were on a cliff, with a breathtaking view of the entire city. I peered down at all the lights, all the cars, all the people, all in the distance. Antonio pointed up, and I gazed at the myriad of stars who had all made themselves visible to us.
Extraordinary. Amazing. Astonished.
And then I got that pang again.
All of a sudden, I felt the butterflies in my stomach. And they were telling me to speak to Antonio.
He gazed out at the world, looking a little... Mournful.
I looked over. Antonio's face had darkened.
"I haven't told anyone before about this..."
"So you won't tell anyone?"
"Of course not. I have no one to tell it to anyways. My life is lonely."
He looked into my eyes and smiled sadly.
"Have I told you I'm married?"
"You mentioned it, when you were singing that song."
"Hmm... Well, then. I think you should know."
He began to tell me the story.
"I sued to be married. As I said before, I sang that song. It's called One Thing by One Direction. Fangirls go mad for it, and while I despise that boyband, I took a particular liking to the song.
"I sang it to Marion right before I proposed, and she leapt forward and kissed be before taking the ring.
"So we got married and soon after had a daughter, Sierra. We were so happy together.
"But then... About 3 years ago, Sierra was about 2. We were driving to the hospital for a jab... And on the motorway... We..."
"Some maniac drove down the road the wrong way. He came directly towards us, and I tried to swerve out of the way... But we still crashed.
"Marion and Sierra were the only casualties. They were... Crushed. They were in the backseat, and as I swerved, they were crushed by the impact from the opposing car.
"I heard the terrified scream of my wife in her final moments. And I saw both of them afterwards, broken, bruised, bloody and..."
I could see the tears in his eyes now.
I wanted to reassure him, to tell him that it was okay, that it was over now - but I kept it shut.
Instead I reached for his wrist.
"We used to come up here together. Before we got married. And sometimes I can feel her spirit..."
He sat upright.
"I can feel her spirit standing here with me. I can feel her and Sierra here, waiting here for me..."
It all made sense now; the song, the car, and... here. They all brought back horrible memories that Antonio wanted to keep buried.
Or did he?
I think he took me up here, just so he could tell me, so he wouldn't forget about Marion and Sierra.
Because he didn't want to forget about them.
I felt a cool breeze blow from in front of us.
My brain told me to speak, but I couldn't.
I wanted to talk to Antonio, but I just couldn't.
And then I opened my mouth and formed the words carefully and slowly.
"Thank you... For taking me here."
"Can I... Tell you something?"
I couldn't say it.
My whole body was telling me to, but I couldn't.
And then I took a deep breath.
"I fell in love with a man once."
He looked at me for a moment, his eyes wide.
Then he chuckled gently.
"Is... Is that so? Aha... What a coincidence..."
He smiled at me.
"So have I."ns18.104.22.168da2